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After two straight stoppage losses, Kevin Holland ended his slump with a knockout win over veteran Santiago Ponzinibbio. But, as he revealed on Monday’s episode of the MMA Hour, “Big Mouth” was dealing with an injury to his right hand entering the contest.
According to the 30-year-old Holland, fight day was the first time he put on four-ounce gloves in the weeks leading up to the fight and it still didn’t feel right.
Kevin Holland admits he was ‘nerve-wracked’ about his hand
Holland told Helwani about how he dealt with the situation on the day of the fight, and how he felt uneasy using his compromised hand.
“That was my first time putting on four-ounce gloves, that day of the fight. I put them on and threw a punch on the mitt, and I was like, damn, I don’t think it’s ready for four ounces.
“I was just, like, a little nerve-wracked about the hand, so I was just letting [UFC President Dana White know after the fight]. I was like, ‘I didn’t think it was going to work, but it did.”
Kevin Holland injured his hand during his December headliner against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, a fight he lost via corner stoppage. He says he only felt comfortable about his hand in March, but with the use of bigger gloves.
“When I got cleared, I didn’t think it was completely ready to be just smacking like that, so I was like, let’s hope by fight night it will be ready,” he explained.
“We just figured we’d give it a shot then and if it wasn’t ready, we’d just go with a different game plan. The game plan was to use the jab a lot and the jab worked, so I was happy.”
Holland proud of his “one-handed” performance
Holland knew the caliber of fighter that Ponzinibbio is and had to be creative with his approach. And he is proud of how his performance turned out to be.
“It was good to go out there, work one-handed. Back was against the wall, felt like a little bit. Couple of people change on you a little bit when you’re down. It always sucks to drop two.
“It isn’t the first time I’ve dropped two in my career, so it’s not like it was brand new news to me or anything like that. So I was like, hey, nothing new, just don’t got both hands. We’ll still do it with the left, I think I’ll do pretty good with the left.
“My dad’s actually left-handed, so he was always telling me, ‘It would be good to learn how to use your left.’ He was like, ‘Your left hand will become your new best friend.’ Sure enough, it did its job.”
With the win over Ponzinibbio, Kevin Holland improved to a record of 24-9 (with 1 NC).
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